The Role of Fathers in Optimizing Children’s Physical Activity
Parents have a major influence on the physical activity levels of their children. This influence operates through a host of mechanisms, including their own behaviors, attitudinal disposition, and parenting practices. Given the global issue of physical inactivity in both children and adults, the number of studies evaluating the impact of family-based interventions to improve children’s physical activity levels has been increasing significantly. The challenge of engaging fathers has also been reported in other fields of pediatric research including psychology, chronic illness treatment, adolescent drug prevention, and parenting programs in general. To better understand how fathers contribute to their children’s physical activity behavior, it is important to appreciate the varied roles that fathers may assume within families. Positive father involvement enhances children’s growth and development through both direct and indirect mechanisms. Importantly, the suggestion that positive fathering and masculinity are independent constructs does not minimize the reality that fathers have a major influence on their children.